Don’t Stop St. Pete Revs On With Continuously Satisfying Sounds

The Pinellas fest entertained withξsocial and cultural consciousness as well as an impressively diverse sampling of indie music. Photos by Daniel Veintimilla.

Competing springtime events didn’t stop a throng of millennials and a few older music enthusiasts from rocking out at Don’t Stop St. Pete 2017Œæon a sunny afternoon in St. Petersburg. ŒæThe community festival at the Morean Center for Clay served up a pastiche of sights and sounds from early afternoon to midnight. Popular local/regional acts such as Luxury Mane,ŒæSet & Setting, Jensen Serf Company,ŒæPermanent Makeup and Sonic GraffitiŒæandŒæ25 other acts took to indoor and outdoor stages cheekily named “Don’t,” “Stop,” “St.” and “Pete.”

“We love to activate parts of the city that otherwise go unnoticed,” said Don’t Stop St. Pete co-founder and event partner Anna Serena. “I don’t know how many people told me they’d never visited our venue, the Morean Center for Clay, before, but it’s rooted in St Pete’s history — it was once a functioning train station!”
Johnny Mile and the Kilometers, bluesy, vintage-flavored band from St. Pete.


Goodnight Neverland’s frontman Kerry Kourtney delivered dynamic vocals, backed by atmospheric keyboards, soaring guitars and textured arrangements.


Napoleon and the Wilderness brought some twang and pretty ballads to the artfully decorated Stop stage.

As with any music festival, there areξthe bands you set out to see and the new acts that become revelations. While some concert fests can wreak havoc with a jumbled mess of delayed start times, DSSP kept it compactly scheduled with a succession of acts that took turns starting from one stage to the next. Performing from 3 p.m. until midnight, they drew crowds with a staggering variety of moods and styles.


Phillip Oliver, bassist for The Jackettes.


Ian Iachimoe

The Jackettesξdelighted in the afternoon with melodic pop, upbeat humor, infectious bass lines and soulful falsettos. On the darker side of the spectrum, Davie-based duoξIan Iachimoeξ(the name ofξa Paul McCartney pseudonym) appealed to heavy music lovers with just a drum set and bass guitar aided by copious effects. Whatever the duo lacked in manpower they made up for it in triplicate with metallic mania, progressiveξarrangements and propulsive rhythms.

“Maybe one of the most under-recognized bands we hosted from out of town was Ian Iachimoe,”ŒæSerena added. “I think their sound is really complementary to Set and Setting. They are a two-piece that play as loud as a 20-piece band.”

Ian Iachimoe

Speaking of mad rhythms, Permanent Makeup ushered in the nighttime performances with theirξenergetic, avant-garde mishmash of angular guitar riffs and booty-shakeability.

“We got there early to see The Spuds, and I loved them,” shared Permanent Makeup drummer Susan Dickson-Nadeau, who sported the ironed-on command, “Respect Women Now!!!” on the front of her white T-shirt. The acclaimed percussionist saidŒæshe enjoyed the trio’sŒæcatchy style and feminist tunes, highlighted by anŒæanti-cat-callingŒæaudience clap-along.


During Permanent Makeup’s set, husband/frontman Chris Nadeau, ventured offstage in the thick of their appreciative crowd — as didŒæAutarx‘s vocally acrobatic, face-painted frontwoman, who, according to Orlando Weekly, goes by the name “Raised by Wolves.” ŒæThe O-Town-based Goth-punk band recall popular genres of the 1970s and ’80s but their delivery and blend of Œætempos are exciting and fresh.

Off-stage antics recurred throughout the night. ξSerena commented onξthe late-night action:

“Drug closed out our Stranger Thingsthemed indoor stage. … The singer positioned himself in the audience, making for an even more intimate experience. Sonic Graffiti closed out the outdoor stage by sending a deafening declaration of Don’t Stop’s presence in the Warehouse Arts District. It was their incredible volume that echoed into the night as the festival ended to hibernate until next year. “
Lost in TimeξCreations decor.

From a stage adorned with holiday lights a laŒæWinona Ryder’s living room in the aforementionedŒæNetflix series to the crochet candles hanging from the Stop stage, ŒæSerena set out to set her event apart from the chain-link fences and barren expansesŒæof most festivals.

“We owe a great deal to St Pete’s own Lost In Time Creation for accentuating the property’s charm with custom fabricated staging and chill zones,” she said. “It’s those details that differentiate our festival from larger more turn-key events.”

Artist Lucas James displayed works indoors by the “Pete” stage.

Serena stipulated that she made it a point to import friendly bands from all over Florida. “Wastelands has been shredding in Miami for a few years,” she said, “and it was a treat to bring their energy to the roster. People definitely lost it during their set.”

Local information booths and vendors supplemented the entertainment with quality foods and goods. Included wereξUrban Brew and BBQ, ξBlack Crow Coffee Co, artist Josh Comics, ξWashed Ashore, Badass Baubles & Things, Keep St. Pete Lit, Wild Nocturne, Black Moth Candle Co. and Rejuled.

Ray’s Vegan SoulŒæfed hungry concertgoers fedŒæhungry concertgoers in for the long haul, and Sarasota-based PopCraft PopsŒæindulged withŒænaturally tasty sweet frozen treats. ŒæMitchell Goodrich’s Film World Desert zines set up indoors with reading material between stages, and Woveprint Co. brought their silkscreen presses to create custom tees with snazzy Florida artwork bearing the slogan, “A sunny place for shady people.”

The origins of Don’t Stop trace back to Antiwarpt, which launched in 2010 as an alternative to the Vans Warped Tour. ŒæWith two wildly successful runs, the fest earned a respectable imprimatur on its own, all but shedding associations with itsŒænational-mainstream counterpart. In 2013, its promoters spun off with their own events at different times of the year: Plan B and Don’t Stop St. Pete.

Serena has said that she strove to make Don’t Stop St. Pete more of a community-focused event than just another music festival.

She’s also involvedŒæenvironmentalŒæawareness in her other role as vice president ofŒæPeople for Protecting Peace River, an organization “built upon safeguarding our watershed and protecting Floridaäó»s native ecosystems.” Volunteers handed out information from the organization and the Center for Biological Diversity. $1 from each ticket sold went to the People for Protecting Peace River.

“Community is at the core of everything we do with Don’t Stop St Pete. From the local bands and vendors, to the production and volunteers, everything ties back to the city. We tried to reflect that with this year’s branding, by referencing the World Liquors sign on Central, and juxtaposing it with the municipal St. Pete sun mascot (artwork by event partner Brian Butler; the was also recently popularized by Chad Mize’s downtown mural).

“Our core team is made of people who are passionate about our scene. Many of our performers have returned each year to perform or volunteer. … They see us doing the same (as individuals) for their events. We love how there is a shared sense of admiration, and a common notion that a high tide raises all ships.”


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